Sarah Palin has been many things to many people: Vice presidential candidate to John McCain; inspirational leader to scores of She-publicans and “Mama Grizzlies,” not to mention tea partyers in Alaska and “the lower 48”; and brunt of jokes to countless others besides Tina Fey.

Starting on Sunday, Palin will be the focus, along with her home state, of a reality show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” on TLC. Is this a wise move for someone still seen as a contender for the presidency in 2012? TV critic Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times, that bastion of the liberal media to Ms. Palin and her cohorts, takes a look. –KA

The New York Times:

A reality show is a risky step for any politician, but then Ms. Palin is no ordinary politician. It’s still not clear whether she plans to run for president in 2012, or is just riding high on her popularity and fame. The TLC program highlights her physical bravery, but the series’s existence points to a different kind of courage: Ms. Palin is not afraid to be herself.

The first episode doesn’t show much of the nitty-gritty of handling six children, including Trig, the Palins’ toddler, who has Down syndrome, and Tripp, the young son of their eldest daughter, Bristol. Ms. Palin says they don’t have a lot of household help, but viewers aren’t privy to feedings, diaper changes and vacuuming.

Yet Ms. Palin allows the camera to record moments that may well make her critics snicker, particularly now that Bristol is back in the limelight as an underdog contender on “Dancing With the Stars.” (Bristol first became famous during the 2008 campaign as the governor’s unwed and pregnant teenage daughter; she later led a high school abstinence campaign and is now identified on the dance show as a “teen activist.”)

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